Admirals: DOD logistics need to modernize more quickly

Military logisticians aiming to serve warfighter requirements had better discard a supply-chain mentality.

That was the message delivered yesterday by two retired rear admirals now working in the private sector at the Defense Logistics 2006 conference in Washington.

'If you're still thinking supply chain, you're not going to get where you want to go,' said retired Rear Admiral Ray Archer, vice president for operations at Dell Inc. of Round Rock, Texas. 'The supply chain is internal to the organization and has little to do with customers. Customers don't care about your infrastructure but only whether you met their expectations.'

Retired Rear Admiral Michael Finley, a director at PRTM, an international management consultant company, argued that a 'logistics of precision' must 'focus on delivering specific items to specific customers.'

'The focus is now is on internal processes and procedures,' he argued.

The Army has been trying to improve how it manages its logistics, but has been struggling with its Logistics Modernization Program. LMP has faced repeated Government Accountability Office criticisms and attempts by members of Congress to cut its budget because of ongoing problems.

Finley contended that military logistics has lagged behind other areas of military transformation.

'The military has become leaner, more mobile, more lethal and more precise,' he said. 'It no longer relies on mass to deliver its product. But we're still mired in the logistics of mass.'

Logistics performance measurement would have to be revamped to achieve Finley's vision. 'Performance is often measured by averages,' he explained. 'Averages give credit for delivering unimportant material early.'

Current averages show that 85 percent of requisitions are satisfied within 30 days. 'That is way too imprecise,' Finley commented.

Mark Krysko, assistant deputy undersecretary of Defense for strategic sourcing, defended the progress DOD is making in transforming logistics.

'The department's metric is that you woke up this morning free and safe,' he said. 'Everything else flows from that.'

But Finley countered that waste is built into the current system.

'Logisticians never get feedback about stuff that was bought but never used,' he said. 'That squanders taxpayer money.'

About the Author

Peter Buxbaum is a special contributor to Defense Systems.

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